Former Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly chosen as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for St. Austell and Newquay.
Felicity Owen was selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for St. Austell and Newquay on Sunday 16th June at an All Members’ Meeting held in St. Stephen in Brannel.
Felicity was selected by the members after four candidates took part in a hustings based on the Question Time format, where each of them answered selected questions on a wide variety of topics and also took questions from the floor.
Felicity is a former Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Her role was to improve the health of the population and to tackle inequalities in health; she started her career as a nurse, became a renal nurse and a health visitor.
Felicity spoke of her determination to begin campaigning and canvassing to get the Labour Party message out to the people of St. Austell and Newquay that the Tories are failing the people of Cornwall and indeed the nation.
Speaking shortly after the hustings Felicity said:
"I am delighted to have been selected and I promise to work hard to get a Labour government into power. I want to see an end to austerity and see that the NHS and education are in safe hands. There must be no more privatisation of public services and serious action needs to be taken to tackle the climate crisis."
Dear St Austell and Newquay Labour Party Members,
I am delighted to have been selected as the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for St Austell & Newquay.
I am passionate about getting a socialist government in power and to have a Labour MP in St Austell and Newquay. We deserve so much better than what we have locally and nationally.
I will campaign and canvas tirelessly. I will listen to your views. I will march, campaign, petition, lobby, demonstrate and canvas until Labour is elected. I am determined, hardworking, live in and know the area and services & have experience of the media.
I want to speak to every member about what you want from me and what your concerns and issues are. If you’d like to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.
I started volunteering at Spitalfields Crypt, a service for homeless men and street drinkers when I was a student nurse in Whitechapel. I trained as a general nurse and developed an interest in prevention and tackling inequalities. I did further study and worked in renal nursing, as a ward sister, in health visiting, lecturing, health promotion and public health. I was Director of Public Health (DPH) from 2005 firstly for StAN then after the merger of the three Primary Care Trusts in Cornwall was successful in becoming the DPH for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in 2006 until 2014. This was a joint appointment with Cornwall County Council (subsequently Cornwall Council). I feel privileged to have been DPH and made a difference to people living in poverty and hardship. Evidence of the depth and breadth of the work I led on can be viewed at https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/public-health-cornwall/public-health-legacy-document/ I have a lot of media experience and have built trust with local radio, TV and press, who know me as an honest and reliable source. I am a skilled communicator, am hard-working, enthusiastic, and have expertise in planning, evaluation and assessment. I am a democratic leader, proficient at consensus building, creating action and developing others. I enjoy helping solve issues with people, in particular those who are in difficulty. I worked for the NHS & Councils for 40 years putting socialist values into practice. I was a member of the Royal College of Nursing Union from 1981 to 2015. I recently become a member of Unite. I am a lifelong Labour voter and joined the party in 2017 as I was enthused by the manifesto, and a return to grass roots socialism. I am an active member of the StAN CLP and Branch and a member of the NHS group who campaign against local cuts and privatisation. We’ve had some success in delaying the closure of community hospitals and the introduction of an accountable care organisation but there is much more to do against the insidious privatisation of the NHS and to many of our other valued services.
My commitment to you as your PPC and next Member of Parliament:
The loss of Mevagissey Surgery would be an absolute tragedy for an entire community and particularly for those in greatest need. That is why it is important to understand the national context of how this crisis has been created.
Since the Coalition Government’s catastrophic 2012 Health and Social Care Act, more than 1100 GP practices covering 4.2m people, have closed or merged. That is one in eight. The sharp fall in practice numbers - along with a 6% rise in patients registered with a GP - has seen the average practice list size increase by 22%. GP numbers have fallen by 4% and their workloads are becoming unsustainable. The Royal College of GP’s say that the health service in England is 6,000 doctors short of what it needs. Nine out of ten doctors (according to a huge BMA survey) believe the shortages are putting patient safety at risk. That is why it is difficult to recruit doctors. It has become as difficult to recruit nurses too, with 42000 vacancies in the UK.
When Woodland Road Surgery was closed by St Austell Healthcare over a year ago, the principle reason given was because of difficulties in recruiting new doctors. When I delivered a petition with over 1750 signatures protesting the closure of the surgery, NHS England, the unelected quango which now commissions the service, completely ignored it.
The closure of Woodland Road saw thousands of patients transferred to other surgeries and waiting (and travel) times inevitably increased. The crisis in healthcare is a direct consequence of this government’s triple-whammy. Firstly, despite hollow and misleading claims of, “record NHS spending,” the NHS has suffered the largest real-terms cuts to funding in its 71-year history. Secondly, it has endured the biggest reorganisation ever (despite promises not to) at a cost of over £1.5bn. Thirdly, ever increasing privatisation has inevitably has led to rising costs and poorer services.
No responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies with the doctors, or any of the other staff at the Practice. They work longer hours than ever, yet continue to provide the very best service in increasingly difficult circumstances. It is important that we continue to support them in their efforts to keep the surgery open. At the same time the politicians, who are responsible for this mess, should be held accountable for their failure. It would at least be helpful if, rather than grandstanding and offering banal platitudes, they were to demonstrate some humility and maybe even a little contrition.
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Wardt Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
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